The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

12Jun/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0050

The voice had come from a horrifically scarred goblin. He had been burned at some point in his life and one of his hands had been replaced with a hook. The other hand held a walking stick for balance. There were a few sparse hairs here and there on the sections of skin that did not have burn scars. All of those hairs were quite white. This goblin had to be ancient. Enzi could not imagine that many goblinoids survived to old age, and especially not a goblin.

“Expecting us?” Enzi asked.

The goblin nodded, “It took a lot of work to clear your path. Now let us get somewhere private for a chat. You may be the solution to a serious problem.”

“What kind of problem?” Enzi queried.

“This war,” the elderly goblin answered.

“You are the leader that is looking to end this conflict then?”

“Yes,” the goblin replied, “Come and I will explain more where it is safe.”

Enzi and the Irregulars followed the wizened goblinoid. The goblin led them into a hidden cave as the irregulars kept their eyes out for danger. It was far too likely that this was a trap. However, the ancient goblin had a cozy set up with seats of all sizes and shapes for his odd guests. The amount of knowledge needed for such specific accommodations worried Enzi, but he was a naturally suspicious person after all he had been through in his life.

The goblin spoke, “I am called Ranum. Among my people I have long been known for my wisdom. You are Enzi's Irregulars. Tales of your actions have filtered through my spies to reach my ears. One traveled with the group chasing the human that fled. He witnessed your destruction of the goblinoids and reported on your movements to me. I had a path made for you to reach this place.”

“The Kurrot woman who fled talked of overhearing many interesting things,” Enzi stated.

Ranum nodded, “I did my best to allow her to escape with this knowledge. Too many knew of her actions for me to talk to her directly, but if I could start a dialogue with the right people, I knew that this foolish war could be ended.”

“I had never thought a goblinoid would seek peace,” Enzi replied.

“Then you know little of our culture,” Ranum said, “Peace is all we ever wanted. Instead we rot here in these swamps, slaughtered by the worst rulers this world has ever known.”

“Worst?” Enzi asked, “Surely that can not be true. The giants were terrible rulers that enslaved our people as well as yours. Even the time when goblinoids ruled the land was brutal.”

“You see things through the view of a human,” Ranum sighed, “Perhaps I can enlighten you. For even the giants were better rulers than you and more peaceful. Certainly the giants were harsh. They would indiscriminately slaughter some of our people and your people for food. Yet even that is better than the humans. Your people would have none of us survive. They would end our race if they could. You work with these creatures that are not human. They know it as well as you do. If given a chance, the humans would kill them all.”

Aldebaran, Eurysa, Kava, Mayitso, and Ritter shared awkward glances to each other. All had seen the bigotry of the humans. It was only the intercession of Enzi that had kept them all alive. Even the Halz had seen the hatred of the people outside of Nuvroc. The Nuvroci had long ties with Ritter's people. It was the only reason they respected him at all there. What the goblin had said rang true, a sad truth of human nature.

“It is hard to argue that,” Enzi said, “Though most humans would rather die than be slaves.”

“My people do not believe in slavery either,” Ranum replied.

“Tales told of a great many forced to do work by your people,” Enzi replied, “And we have seen the goblins driven before the larger goblinoids.”

“That is not slavery,” Ranum replied, “If those goblins and humans did not wish a low position, then they must fight for the right to have a better one. Anyone can become great in our society. It just requires work. Your people believe in elevating those by their birth. Hereditary leadership is foolish. Only the best should lead. Even then, your people can not agree. You fight among yourselves tooth and claw.”

“Did not your many clans war with each other?” Enzi asked.

“Indeed,” Ranum replied, “Even my people are not perfect. Entire clans fought with each other to prove which was strongest and best for leadership. This was a mistake. Like humans, the clan wars sought to elevate a group, and not the individuals. This infighting cost us our leadership of this world. The humans united against us. It was the unity that won the day. We learned much since that fateful day. Now clans are remembered as things of the past. Some are quite proud of the deeds of their clans, but few now fight over a difference in what clan they are descended from.”

“Yet now you are not united,” Enzi said.

“You see straight to the heart of the issue,” Ranum said with a sad tone, “A new group has formed. The pale humans came with an offer of great power. It swayed a great many of my people. It was a symbol to rally around. It was a weapon so devastating that my people saw the hope for a great success in the war to come. This view is short sighted. Their new weapon is powerful indeed and it could cause great harm to the humans. Yet we goblinoids have lived for generation without being seen as a great threat.”

“You believe this attack will cause such great harm that the humans will be forced to exterminate your people for their own safety,” Ritter stated.

Ranum nodded, “My people have little love for yours. You are hated nearly as much as we hate the humans. Yet we respect your strength and skill. Each person has their place, although who you are born to still holds great sway in your culture. Your minds hold great ingenuity. As a people of engineers, I had hoped you could see the simplicity of my problem.”

Ritter nodded, “If you become a threat that has to be ended rather than to be seen as a pest, then all your people could be slain.”

“Yes,” Ranum said, “But many of my people are too enthralled by the words of the pale humans. They claim the weapon can not be beaten. They promise a world where the pale humans and the goblinoids would rule side by side. An obvious upgrade from our current station. Yet I know better than this. These Tarvoni as they call themselves do not plan to share any power. They seek to use us as a weapon to weaken the other humans. Our destruction means nothing to them.”

“So what exactly is this weapon?” Kava asked, getting impatient with the conversation.

“An egg was brought to us a great many years ago. Now the creature has grown in power that it has been shown off to our people. It is a great winged lizard that spits a fluid that dissolves all it touches.”

“A dragon!” Enzi replied.

“Yes, that is the word the pale humans used.”

The greenish flesh of the vodyanoi noticeably paled, “This explains a great deal if it is true. The lizardfolk were moving to war because an egg had been stolen from them long ago. Only now did information come to them on who did it. They blame the Feergrus.”

Enzi nodded, “The Tarvoni planned this out long ago. They seek to bring war on all of their enemies, then sit back and watch. The goblinoids will strike against the north while the lizardfolk strike against the south. Luckily the Feergrus already know of the threat, but this is still bad news.”

Ranum looked to those gathered in the room, “This situation must be ended. My people are not yet prepared to rule this world again. More preparation is needed before we can succeed. We may disagree on many things but I know you have a vested stake in ending this conflict the same as I. I have access to a piece of information that will allow you to stop this plot before it can go too far. I know exactly when the dragon will be unleashed. I know where as well. With this information you can prepare for it and destroy it before it threatens the lives of my people.”

The date that the goblin gave was far off. It was to take place nearly two years after the war had started. A great many lives had already been lost and a great many more would people would fall. Yet the young dragon would be protected by the Tarvoni of the Abyss Cult and the most loyal of goblinoids to their cause until it was ready to strike out. It would take a serious military strike beyond anything Enzi could hope to gather to even get close. They would have to wait until the drake came out into the open. Only then would the nightmare end.

“Now you know,” Ranum stated, “I used what power I had to clear a path in, but I expect the way out will not be as easy. I am sorry I can not do more for your safety. I may not like humans or dwarves, but you are the last hope for my race. I know I can trust you.”

“You have given me some hope that someday there will be no more war. Although I do not currently see how the values of our cultures can ever exist together peacefully, perhaps things will change one day. Already our two peoples have changed. Perhaps when my people learn to live with each other in peace, we will finally be able to live in peace with other races as well,” Enzi said with a smile.

“Now that we both have hope, flee while you can,” Ranum said, “The forces will be returning soon. I will have to join them in seeking your destruction if you are spotted near here.”

“I understand,” Enzi replied, “While it would be nice to meet again in a friendly situation, I expect that will never happen. Fare well and let us hope we can save the world.”

Enzi and the Irregulars slipped out of the cave. It was well hidden. The inside had obviously been worked and dug out. Ritter wondered how many other goblinoid warrens were hidden within the hills near the Nuvro Range, high enough to be out of the wet of the marsh. There was little time for thinking, however. Eurysa's eyes spotted movement in the distance. For now the goblinoids were too far to recognize anything but movement. Enzi hoped they would not expect anyone this deep in their territory, although the attack by the Bladestorms likely heightened the awareness of the goblinoids.

It would not be long however, so the mercenaries pushed as hard as they could towards the base camp. As dusk came, they found a place to camp. They had not yet been discovered, but it was only a matter of time. They got what rest they could and pushed onwards in the morning. Mayitso was the first to notice it. A chance breeze brought a scent to his nose. The group was being followed. Oddly over the next several days of travel they were never attacked and the goblinoids were never directly seen. Only Mayitso's sharp nose and a few odd sounds gave away the pursuit.

“What are they waiting for?” Ritter asked, “The further we get from the goblinoid lands, the less their advantage will be. This does not make sense.”

“While I can think of a few strategic possibilities,” Enzi replied, “None of them make a lot of sense to me either. However, some of the goblinoid generals are incredibly good with tactics. We need to keep our eyes and ears open. Hopefully we can figure out what they are up to before they spring the trap.”

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